Recovering Biblical Worship Against a World Sold on Entertainment

worshipContinuing our series on “10 Challenges Facing the Church in the 21st Century.” We’ve already looked at :

1. Addressing Post-modern American with the authentic Gospel.
2. Cultivating a people of truth in a culture of relativism.
3. Preaching the unchanging Word in a time of increasing flux.

And now today: 4. Recovering Biblical worship against a world sold on entertainment.

In 1986 Neil Postman wrote a book entitled, Amusing Ourselves to Death. It was published just two years after 1984 which was the title of Orwell’s novel. Postman looked at the American culture and gave an analysis in which he saw everything based on entertainment or amusement. He spoke about Orwell’s dark vision as compared to Aldous Huxley’s in Brave New World. Postman said:

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies . . .”

There is no doubt that in 21st century America we have fallen prey to Huxley’s vision in a very tragic way. We seek to only be entertained, and that entertainment must be continuous. The real tragedy is that this attitude has infiltrated the church in a major way. It is all about “me” in so many of our churches. Make “me” happy or else I will go somewhere that they will. Lost is the concept that it is not about “me” but it is all about Jesus Christ.

Postman mentioned something that took place in 1985 where many celebrities gathered in a tribute to comedian George Burns for surviving 80 years in show business. Shecky Green, Red Buttons, Milton Berle, and others were joined by Billy Graham for this tribute. Postman tells this about the evening:

“The Reverend Graham exchanged one-liners with Burns about making preparations for Eternity. Although the Bible makes no mention of it, the Reverend Graham assured the audience that God loves those who make people laugh. It was an honest mistake. He merely mistook NBC for God.”

Sadly, in many church contexts there is more of an entertainment mentality than a worship attitude. Make me feel good, make me happy, wow me with something different and unusual, and the list can go on and on. When I come to church I want to see and hear something that I can find no place else. Something that nothing the entertainment media can give me. I want to have an encounter with the God of Truth. I want to “hear” from Him from His holy word. I want to express to Him my gratitude for all that He has done to bring about my salvation in the cross of Christ.

Corporate worship is the most exciting thing in the world . . . when we approach it properly. Of course, we can worship God individually throughout the week, but when we come together on Sunday there is nothing individual about it. It is the Body of Christ gathered with one purpose in mind, or it should be, and that is to worship — To declare the goodness, the grace, the glory of the living God in Jesus Christ, our Lord. To gaze into His face as we “see” Him high and lifted up.

When we seek entertainment, we are lowering God to our level. We “make” God too small in our estimation. David said in Psalm 96:5-7 — “For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before Him, Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary . . .Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.” Our God is a great God, a big God, the true God . . . Let us forget about entertainment and worship Him in a manner that is worthy of His greatness.

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